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COVID-19: Canadian company testing vaccine candidates that target variant strains

The company's vaccine platform will target the major COVID-19 strains.
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Eyam Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics and UBC are doing preclinical studies of unique COVID-19 vaccine candidates that target variant strains.

A Canadian company has announced that it is doing preclincial studies of unique COVID-19 vaccine candidates to target variant strains. 

Eyam Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics (EYAM) announced Monday (April 12) that it is beginning preclinical studies to test the efficacy of unique COVID-19 vaccine candidates that target SARS-CoV-2 variants, explains a news release.

The preclinical testing begins to address the "urgent societal need to accelerate containment of the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants."

In November 2020, EYAM entered into a licensing agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver to develop several proprietary COVID-19 vaccine candidates in a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine platform.

The Canadian company says it "anticipates rapid advancement" for these COVID-19 vaccine candidates, crediting its "platform and strategy," as well as the collaborative research agreement with the University of British Columbia, which "differentiates the potential vaccine product from other vaccines that have already come to market."

When asked how the EYAM's vaccine technology targets several variant strains, Chief Executive Officer Ryan M. Thomas tells Vancouver Is Awesome that the next-generation mRNA vaccine technology is "robust, with several proprietary advancements over the first generation of mRNA vaccines."

Thomas says the company's vaccine platform will target the major COVID-19 strains including the "Wuhan, South Africa, Brazil, UK (Kent) and California variants."

Vaccine efficacy in preclinical studies

Before the vaccine will be tested on people, Thomas adds that validation of vaccine efficacy in preclinical studies is a critical stage in its development process. "Our studies in relevant pre-clinical models will specifically address long-term vaccine effectiveness in preventing illness and infection, and vaccination efficacy in reducing transmission."

Dr. Reno Pontarollo, president and chief operating officer of EYAM states: "Our goal is to end the global COVID-19 pandemic by creating unique sterilizing vaccines that halt infection and transmission of the virus. However, the creation of a sterilizing vaccine for COVID-19 that is safe and effective in a global population of over 7 billion people, is a monumental task.

"The self-amplifying mRNA vaccine technologies designed by UBC Professor and EYAM CSO, Dr. Wilfred Jefferies have the potential to reduce the effective quantities of COVID-19 vaccine per dose and are made in the absence of serum or tissues to eliminate the toxicity inherent in other vaccine platforms. Overall, these unique vaccines address several current obstacles in COVID-19 vaccine development."

There are now 113,702 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. after health officials announced 873 new cases Tuesday. 

 There are 9,756 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 258 of these are variant strains.